Ahead of World Youth Day 2023, a Vatican official has praised the creativity of youth and said they ought to be protagonists not only in the event, but also in the organisational process.
Speaking to delegates attending a preparatory meeting in Fatima, American Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s office for Laity, Family and Life, said the delegates are all members of ‘a universal Church that is on a journey’.
‘Pope Francis wants this type of synodal church,’ and has spoken of ‘a synodal youth ministry that is a “wonderful polyhedron”,’ Cardinal Farrell said, adding that in this process, ‘young people themselves are the protagonists of change’.
‘For this reason, I encourage all of you, in preparing for World Youth Day in your countries and in your movements, to let young people themselves be the protagonists,’ he said, saying youth have many ‘great creative ideas’ about how to organise pilgrimages for WYD.
Instituted by Pope St John Paul II to reach out to young people and engage them in Church life, WYD was established in 1985, with the first international gathering taking place in Rome in 1986.
With the institution of WYD, John Paul II invited bishops to celebrate the event annually in their dioceses every Palm Sunday, and to send youth to the international gatherings, which are held every two to three years in different locations around the world.
Pope Francis, who attended the last WYD in Panama in 2019, in 2021 changed the date of the diocesan WYD celebrations to the feast of Christ the King, rather than Palm Sunday.
Originally planned for 2022 but delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the next youth day gathering will be held in Lisbon from August 1–6, 2023.